The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 23
When God opens up a new phase of your life, how should you begin? Joshua had warned the people, “You have not passed this way before” (Josh. 3:4). They are about to enter a new phase of life. What will God require of Israel as they camp at Gilgal and prepare to enter Canaan? Chapter five reveals four clear truths for making the transition to a new phase of life.
A new phase of life requires dedication. After the children of Israel cross the Jordan, now within easy attack by their enemies, God requires them to go through the painful rite of circumcision. This action will leave them vulnerable and thus will require faith that the God who calls them to obedience will protect them as they obey. In response to their faith, God names the place Gilgal, because their reproach has been rolled away.
The new phase also enjoins celebration. After this difficult time of dedication, God leads Israel to celebrate the Passover. Passover celebration reminds Israel of God’s deliverance by power and by blood—the innocent on behalf of the guilty. Israel again remembers God’s miraculous redemption.
God, in this the phase, creates motivation. The manna that had been their staple for forty years—many in this generation had never eaten anything else—ceases after they celebrate the Passover. In order to eat, they must take the land.
God also commands commemoration. The altar made of twelve stones removed from the midst of the Jordan will stand as a continual reminder of God’s intervention on Israel’s behalf.
Finally, God, in this transition, provides illumination. No longer does He lead Israel by cloud and fire; rather He reveals that He is the commander of the army of the LORD. And make no mistake, this is the LORD Himself, for He demands that Joshua remove his shoes just as He had commanded Moses to remove his forty years earlier. God illuminates that His revelation always fits His people’s specific needs. When they need light by night, He is cloud and fire; as they prepare to go into battle, He is the warrior God.
Are you facing a new phase of life? That new phase of life will require dedication to do His will, celebration to remember His goodness in the past, motivation to trust Him to provide your needs, commemoration of God’s past activity, and illumination—a fresh word from the Word.
Questions from today’s reading (Joshua 3:1-6:27):
Why must the ark of the covenant precede Israel in crossing over the Jordan?
How does the LORD’s appearance as Israel’s military captain encourage Joshua?
What does the LORD’s military strategy require of Israel?
Why does the LORD lead Israel in this way?
What does Israel learn about God through this process?